Monday, May 19, 2008

Google Announces Android Developers Top 50 Applications

Android Developers Blog: The Top 50 Applications
As you may have heard, the results from Android Developer Challenge Part 1, Round 1 were announced to all the participants late last week. We're still working on pulling together a more extensive listing for each application that made it into the top 50, but in the spirit of releasing early and often, here's a list containing the name of the application and its author(s):
  • AndroidScan - Jeffrey Sharkey
  • Beetaun - Sergey Gritsyuk and Dmitri Shipilov
  • BioWallet - Jose Luis Huertas Fernandez
  • BreadCrumbz - Amos Yoffe
  • CallACab - Konrad Huebner and Henning Boeger
  • City Slikkers - PoroCity Media and Virtual Logic Systems
  • Commandro - Alex Pisarev, Andrey Tapekha
  • Cooking Capsules - Mary Ann Cotter and Muthuselvam Ramadoss
  • Diggin - Daniel Johansson, Aramis Waernbaum, Andreas Hedin
  • Dyno - Virachat Boondharigaputra
  • e-ventr - Michael Zitzelsberger
  • Eco2go - Taneem Talukdar, Gary Pong, Jeff Kao and Robert Lam
  • Em-Radar - Jack Kwok
  • fingerprint - Robert Mickle
  • FreeFamilyWatch - Navee Technologies LLC
  • goCart - Rylan Barnes
  • GolfPlay - Inizziativa Networks
  • gWalk - Prof. Dr.-Ing. Klaus ten Hagen, Christian Klinger, Marko Modsching, Rene Scholze
  • HandWx - Weathertop Consulting LLC
  • IMEasy - Yan Shi
  • Jigsaw - Mikhail Ksenzov
  • JOYity - Zelfi AG
  • LifeAware - Gregory Moore, Aaron L. Obrien, Jawad Akhtar
  • Locale - Clare Bayley, Christina Wright, Jasper Lin, Carter Jernigan
  • LReady Emergency Manager - Chris Hulls, Dilpreet Singh, Luis Carvalho, Phuong Nguyen
  • Marvin - Pontier Laurent
  • Mobeedo - Sengaro GmbH
  • Multiple Facets Instant Messenger - Virgil Dobjanschi
  • MyCloset - Mamoru Tokashiki
  • PedNav - RouteMe2 Technologies Inc.
  • Phonebook 2.0 - Voxmobili
  • PicSay - Eric Wijngaard
  • PiggyBack - Christophe Petit and Sebastien Petit
  • Pocket Journey - Anthony Stevens and Rosie Pongracz
  • Rayfarla - Stephen Oldmeadow
  • Safety Net - Michael DeJadon
  • SocialMonster - Ben Siu-Lung Hui and Tommy Ng
  • SplashPlay
  • Sustain- Keeping Your Social Network Alive - Niraj Swami
  • SynchroSpot - Shaun Terry
  • Talkplay - Sung Suh Park
  • Teradesk - José Augusto Athayde Ferrarini
  • The Weather Channel for Android - The Weather Channel Interactive Inc.
  • TuneWiki - TuneWiki Inc.
  • Wikitude-the Mobile Travel Guide - Philipp Breuss
  • Writing Pad - ShapeWriter Inc
Those of you following along carefully at home (or who bothered to read this far) will notice that there's only 46 in this list. 4 winners opted to continue their efforts in secret and so while we congratulate them too, we can't list them here.

Wii Fit Launches In U.S.

Nintendo launches its Wii Fit today, the popular expansion to its Wii gaming system that has already sold more than 2 million Wii Fit units in Japan.

Its American launch came today at the Nintendo World store in New York. The system will be available through U.S. retailers beginning Wednesday May 21. Online resellers are already taking pre-sale orders with many sites already showing as out of stock.

Users use a balance board similar to the platform used for step aerobics. You can ride a virtual snowboard, do yoga, twirl virtual hula hoops, or do other exercises on the Wii Balance Board. The board connects with the Wii console through wireless signals. Mii caricatures reflect players' changing fitness levels as they improve.


"Wii Fit will get you moving whether you've been playing video games for years or this is your first time," Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America's executive VP of sales and marketing, said in an announcement. "Wii Fit is easy for anyone to try and is yet another example of how Nintendo continues to expand the world of video games to new audiences."


The wireless accessory basically is a sophisticated, floor-based game controller. It senses your weight and movement as you step on it and uses that data to control onscreen games and exercises designed to improve your balance, posture and fitness. The system will offer more than 40 activities and stores users' records. Virtual trainers guide users and make suggestions for improvement.

The suggested retail price for Wii Fit is $89.99 and online pre-orders can be made at Circuit City, Best Buy, K-Mart and Walmart/

FireFox 3.0 Reaches Release Candidate Status

According to Mozilla developers Firefox 3.0 RC1 edges closer to final code. This milestone is focused on testing the core functionality provided by many new features and changes to the platform scheduled for Firefox 3.

Firefox 3.0 is built on the Gecko 1.9 Web rendering platform and includes better memory management, improved performance, enhanced security features, and improved usability. Other new features include built-in antivirus protection, easier password management, a new download manager and improved integration with Windows and OS X.

According to Mozilla, changes specifically attributable to the latest release of Firefox 3.0 include:
  • Improvements to the user interface based on user feedback, including changes to the look and feel on Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS X and Linux.
  • Changes and fixes for new features such as the location bar autocomplete, bookmark backup and restore, full page zoom, and others, based on feedback from our community.
  • Fixes and improvements to platform features to improve security, web compatibility and stability.
  • Continued performance improvements: changes to our JavaScript engine as well as profile guided optimization continues to improve performance over previous releases as measured by the popular SunSpider test from Apple, and in the speed of web applications like Google Mail and Zoho Office.

Firefox 3.0 RC1 is currently available for download in multiple languages for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux platforms.



My thoughts:
I've been trying it out over the weekend and so far I'm not highly impressed. Some of my plug-ins aren't functional, I can't find a theme I like that will actually work, and the overall feel just doesn't fit for me. The first two are more an issue for the developers of the plug-ins and themes but its still an annoyance.

While page load times do seem to be faster, I see little to no change in memory usage. In fact if anything it almost looks like I'm using more memory now than with the latest version of FireFox 2. The new looks and feel of the address bar is great, you don't just get the url but a quick title for the page. Bookmark handling has also been upgraded nicely.

I can say I don't see anything majorly wrong, I've had no crashes and little to no issues. I just really don't see anything that is all that impressive. Maybe I'll need more than a day or two of surfing to spot a few extras that I haven't found yet.

AMD Announces "Game"

Today AMD has announced AMD GAME!, their new branding program designed to help consumers select PCs or components for high-definition gaming.

The minimum requirements for GAME! are an AMD Athlon X2 5600+ processor, ATI Radeon HD 3650 graphics card, and AMD 770 or NVIDIA nForce 500 chipset, making for a system that is capable, but not extraordinary. To qualify for GAME! Ultra a system will need a Phenom X4 9650 processor, ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics card, and an AMD 770 chipset.

AMD’s 780G integrated graphics platform will not qualify for the Game! program, as it is was only meant to handle entry-level gaming.

AMD GAME! Enables Console-like Simplicity for Mainstream PCs
AMD GAME! platforms combine the powerful balance of multi-core processors, exceptional HD digital media2, and next-generation graphics processing power. Industry leaders including Acer, Alienware, Logitech and Microsoft are joining AMD to ensure consumers can easily identify PCs that deliver HD gaming and entertainment experiences out of the box.

“With the support of industry leaders in PC gaming, AMD GAME! ensures consumers don’t need an enthusiast-level knowledge of PC hardware for an optimal gaming system,” said Nigel Dessau, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, AMD. “We in the PC industry owe consumers the same predictability, simplicity and affordability in finding a PC for gaming that the console industry currently provides.”

According to Jon Peddie Research, of all desktop and notebook PCs sold last year, two-thirds had only the most basic of capabilities, lacking the technology needed to drive a great gaming experience. AMD recognizes this and is working to provide a consistent source of reliable and accurate information before and at the point of purchase for gaming consumers.

“AMD GAME! is a new initiative focused on delivering a novel experience for consumers, addressing a problem that has long existed in the PC industry until now,” said Dr. Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research in Tiburon, California. “Our research has shown that PC gaming is on the rise and this effort from AMD not only rallies industry support for PC gaming but also acknowledges that computer gaming needs balanced systems for the best consumer experience.”

Gaming and HD Entertainment Support
AMD believes consumers should have a balanced platform with matched and tested components that meet their needs – not compromise their overall computing experience by choosing which components and software are more valuable. Computers should have the power to surge through the demanding moments of gaming action or HD entertainment without stutter or lag. The AMD GAME! initiative helps ensure that the computer system has been optimized for gaming with the right graphics and processor components. Hardware and PC components that carry the AMD GAME! logo let PC buyers and do-it-yourself gamers know they will have a customized and exceptional gaming experience.

“AMD and Microsoft share the vision of delivering better gaming experiences on PCs running Microsoft® Windows® operating systems,” said Kevin Unangst, Microsoft’s senior global director of Games for Windows. “Microsoft’s Games for Windows program and AMD are both working to expand gaming accessibility and ease of use to consumers. Games for Windows titles and Microsoft’s gaming hardware, along with the AMD GAME! initiative, are great examples of how we can bring more value to PC gamers across the industry.”

As part of the AMD GAME! initiative, AMD is dedicated to working closely with industry leaders to help create personal computer configurations that are optimized for all types of users.

“AMD GAME! is a great initiative that will help Acer drive consumers toward the best solution for their gaming needs,” said Brian Bogaard, product business manager – EMEA desktop PC, Acer. “PC gaming is an important area for Acer and with AMD’s help, we can meet the expectations of consumers with a solid gaming experience.”

“We are happy to see the growing interest in PC gaming and now AMD is adding a much needed program to help continue that trend,” Patrick Cooper, director of product group, Alienware. “The AMD GAME! Experience enables Alienware to quickly and easily help consumers identify the experience that is right for them and the high performance Alienware solution that delivers it.”

“AMD GAME! is a great program to help consumers easily identify a solution that addresses their gaming needs,” said David Reid, vice president of marketing at NCsoft North America. “With this partnership, we hope to ensure consumers will enjoy our titles at the highest levels of quality possible.”

AMD GAME! Availability
AMD GAME! systems combine proven AMD technology including AMD Phenom™ processors, the upcoming AMD Turion™ Ultra processors, AMD Athlon™ processors, ATI Radeon™ HD 3000 series graphics, and AMD chipsets to deliver an enhanced and simplified mainstream PC gaming experience.

AMD GAME! platforms are available immediately on-line from system builders such as Alienware, Cyberpower, iBuypower, Maingear and Velocity Micro; retail availability is expected in the second half of 2008.

Information about AMD GAME! can be found at http://game.amd.com, the central source for PC gaming information. Supporting more than three million visitors per month, this website provides product information, contests, spotlights on industry partners, informative articles and purchasing information.

The AMD GAME! press kit offers additional information and collateral material for this launch and can be found at http://www.amd.com/GAME/presskit/.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Fake Grand Theft Auto IV Torrents Contain Viruses

According to DriveSentry hundreds of users have been infected when trying to download Grand Theft Auto IV via P2P.

Hackers having been planting Trojans and other viruses in bogus game files, masking them as torrents that contain the files for GTA 4. The torrents are then being downloaded from P2P networks by those trying to illegally experience the game without purchasing it.

John Safa, chief technical officer of DriveSentry, said: "People are exploiting the popularity of GTA IV in a way which could bring mayhem to the internet."

Former hacker Safa highlighted that within two minutes of logging on to P2P network Limewire he found evidence of Trojan viruses disguised at GTA IV files.

We all know the huge risk involved in using P2P, and Geek-News.Net does not condone the action of illegally downloading files. But a few words of caution here:

Tread very carefully around these files, if you are going to download them do so from a good source. If you are hit with a link to a site that says it has a download chances are its a fake. Always check the main sites first. Invest in a good anti-virus Avast and AVG are great products that are free. Make sure you have the latest updates, viruses definitions are updated constantly and it does little to no good to use an outdated AV program.

Fry's One Day Anniversary Sale 5/16 Only

Fry's is currently having a one day anniversary sale with some great items. A few can be found online but some of the better deals are in-store only.

Fry's Online Ad Scans


Hot Deals:

15.4" Toshiba Notebook $399 online $379 in-store
    Intel Pentium Dual-Core T2370 1.73Ghz
    1GB DDR2 Ram
    120gig HDD
    DLDVD-/+RW
    Vista Home Premium 32Bit w/SP1


Tyris T902WDT 19" Widescreen LCD Monitor

Intel Q6600 and ECS G31T-M Motherboard for $179.99!
    Intel® Core™ 2 Quad Processor Q6600
    ECS G31T-M Socket 775 Motherboard

EVGA 7200GS 256MB PCI-E Graphics Card

Envision V-Cam II Webcam

Software Free After Mail In Rebate:

Kaspersky Anti-Virus 7.0 (3 user)

McAfee Internet Security 2008 With SiteAdvisor (3 user)
Currently sold out online

Nitro PDF Professional
Free After two rebates

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Underage Xbox Fan Has The Time Of His Life

I read this earlier today and thought it was just too funny to not repost it! Big thimbs up to Gamepro.com for catching this one!

Underage Xbox fan blows $30,000 on Halo, hookers and Oreos GamePro.com

One young (and now convicted) Xbox fan had the time of his life in Texas last week, leaving a trail of US$30,000 in games, consoles, Oreos and high-price hookers in his wake.

A 13-year-old from Texas who stole his father's credit card and used it to order two $1,000 hookers has been convicted of fraud and was given a three-year community service order and probation.

Ralph Hardy, a 13-year-old from Newark, Texas, confessed and was convicted of using the stolen card to take his friends on a $30,000 spending spree. When police finally caught up the enterprising teen, he and his friends were playing Halo (which one was unspecified) on an Xbox with the two hookers in a Texas motel.

Police were alerted to the motel by a delivery clerk, who had become concerned after delivering a stash of Dr. Pepper, Fritos and Oreos to the kids. When they asked where they could "score some chicks and were willing to pay," the clerk called police.

Police also recovered $3,000 in cash, a slew of electronic gadgets, an Xbox video console (with games), and the two local escort girls.

Sorry Niko, but you ain't got nothin' on these Texas party animals.

Uno Electric UniCycle

Just when you thought you'd seen it all, a Canadian teen-scientist comes up with the "Uno" an electric side-by-side two wheeled unicycle.



The motorized unicycle which actually features two wheels side-by-side, uses gyroscope technology and a control systems that both keeps the rider balanced over the tires and manages the suspension. When the rider leans into a turn, the inside wheel lifts and the outside wheel lowers, so both stay firmly on the ground. The bike was originally based off of the frame design of a Yamaha R1 sport bike and is powered by amped-up wheelchair motors and 36-volt batteries that can push the Uno to speeds of up to 40 MPH.


The Uno's inventor Ben J. Poss Gulak says that the bike beats out the Segway in terms of speed, and delivers better maneuverability than Bombardier's Embrio unicycle concept.

For more on the Uno checkout their site at the-uno-tomorrows-transportation.com. For more pictures checkout MotorcycleMojo.com

AMD To Launch HD 4800 Series On June 18th

ati logoVR-Zone reports that AMD has confirmed the marketing name for RV770, the Radeon HD 4800 series and will be shipping RV770 GPUs to AIB by end of this month. AMD is set to launch the Radeon HD 4850 on June 18th with retail availability on the same day.

AMD has just confirmed the marketing name for RV770 yesterday which is no surprise to anyone, the Radeon HD 4800 series. RV770PRO is Radeon HD 4850, RV770XT is Radeon HD 4870 and R700 is Radeon HD 4870 X2. AMD will be shipping RV770 GPUs to AIB by end of this month and you can expect different card designs from the manufacturers at launch. AMD is set to launch the Radeon HD 4850 on June 18th and it is definitely a hard one with retail availability on the same day. Radeon HD 4870, however, will be launched a week later on June 25th with retail availability in July due to GDDR5 availability. Radeon HD 4870 X2 will come later in Q3. As for the clocks, we won't be revealing them yet but the RV770XT core clock is not going anywhere above 800MHz.


Late last month Geek-News.Net readers got a sneak peak at the 4800 series specs thanks to TG Daily. Look for benchmarks, reviews and more details to be headed out your way soon!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Craigslist Sues eBay

In a reversal of fortune Craigslist has filed a lawsuit against eBay. The suit accuses eBay of unlawful and unfair competition and copyright infringement, among other things.

Just last month Geek-News.Net reported that eBay was suing Craigslist for implementing new policies that eBay said unfairly diluted its economic interest in Craigslist by more than 10 percent.

Earlier this month eBay posted the court documents outlining exactly why it filed suit against Craigslist. So in turn Craigslist made the documents relating to the countersuit publically available. The 26-page document portrays a completely different picture on how eBay acquired its minority stake in Craigslist. They also allege eBay used its Craigslist board position to harm Craigslist while simultaneously using information gleaned from Craigslist to help their very similar classified ad services called Kijiji.com.

Craigslist is seeking permanent injunctive relief against eBay, its officers, agents, representatives, employees, attorneys, and successors. It further seeks an injunction against eBay using the Craigslist mark or name in advertising alleging eBay infringed Craigslist's trademark by placing ads for Kijiji on Google using Craigslist's name and that eBay interfered in its business, conducted phishing attacks and broke its duty to shareholders.



Craigslist is asking the court to return eBay’s shares to Craigslist and that the court order eBay to divest interests in Craigslist. Craigslist is also seeking a court order for eBay to pay general, special, actual and statutory damages for Craigslist damages and eBay’s profits and other damages the court deems just.

Dell Might Not Dump XPS After All

Yesterday we reported that "Dell was dumping XPS" to focus on its Alienware line, today it seems reports from the Wall Street Journal concerning Dell's XPS lineup were incorrect.

Dell spokesperson Anne Camden said they must have missed the memo concerning any changes to its XPS line stating, "XPS gaming systems will remain an important part of our gaming product portfolio. We don’t plan an early phase-out of these systems as the WSJ incorrectly stated, and in fact will continue to refresh them to keep them on the front edge of gaming."

It looks like the seasoned veterans over at the WSJ made a bit of a goof.

Microsoft Introduces The WorldWide TeleScope

Microsoft Research recently released a new, free online tool designed to bring the world of astronomy to the masses. Microsoft describes the WorldWide Telescope as a "Web 2.0 Visualization Software Environment".

Basically its a virtual telescope that combines tens of millions of images of galaxies, nebulae, planets and other celestial objects to allow you to explore the stars and some of the most interesting spots in the universe right from your PC.

The terabytes of images were collected from various sources including the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), and the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS).

Users must first download an application to use the free service. Then you can opt for guided tours, conducted by astronomers or teachers, or check things out on your own.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

eBay Tries Out PayPal Only In Australia

eBay logoeBay Australia is laying down the law with payments, its PayPal or nothing!

Starting June 17th eBay plans to institute a new payment arrangement that would do away with direct deposits, personal cheques or money orders to purchase items - all in the name of enhanced security. Essentially this move forces all of its Australian users to use PayPal, a move that has angered users and prompted antitrust scrutiny.

Many critics think that the move in Australian is a precursor for a global move. "It's a test case," Ina Steiner, editor of Auctionbytes.com, told the Mercury News. "I'm sure they're very much considering rolling it out to other countries."

eBay is denying the claims that it might try the same approach here in the states. "In the U.S., we are not mulling, planning, or otherwise seriously considering a move to PayPal-only," wrote spokesman Usher Lieberman on the company's eBay Ink blog. "There are U.S. market-specific reasons why PayPal-only is something we simply cannot do in the U.S."

However nothing has been mentioned of them not trying to do the same thing in other countries.

If you read eBay's accepted payments policy you'll notice they've already made provisions to disallow any forms of online payments other than PayPal.

Not permitted on eBay.com
"Payment through online payment methods not specifically permitted in this policy."


It would looks as though eBay is trying to place a strangle hold on its buyers and sellers all in the name of "security".

eBay says it wants to reduce disputes and restore trust in its marketplace with the PayPal-only plan. Because eBay and PayPal can share information on each transaction, eBay says use of PayPal allows it to stop fraud more efficiently than outside payment services.

How it plans to do so is a mystery, especially considering the high numbers of fraud that current occur with eBay and PayPal both.

For more check out these articles:

Dell Dumps XPS To Focus On Alienware

According to the Wall Street Journal Dell is taking a surprising leap and dropping several of its most popular XPS models to focus on its recently acquired Alienware line.

Dell purchased Alienware back in 2006, since that time the company has seen sales drop due in large part to competition with high end Dell XPS systems. Dell had maintained a mostly hands off approach to Alienware allowing both companies to compete in the gaming market simultaneously.

Dell is also going to end the tie-in with World of Warcraft and its XPS machines. Arthur Lewis, who joined Dell with the Alienware purchase, as the head of its gaming PC division, says that Alienware is going to be updating its boxes, which have had the same look for a long time, by using new materials for the exterior of the systems.





Alienware has also said that it will be bringing a low-cost (by gaming PC standards) gaming system to market in the next few weeks powered by AMD/ATI.
The new Alienware system will be priced at $1,699 according to CNET. The machine will use a quad-core Phenom X4 9550 processor running at 2.2GHz. Graphics for the machine will be via ATI’s dual GPU HD 3870 X2 video card. The system is reported to use an Asus mainboard with the AMD 790FX chipset.

Price is one of the places Alienware is criticized the most. Anyone with even a limited amount of computer building experience can build a system far cheaper than they can buy from Alienware. However according to Marc Diana, Alienware product marketing manager for desktops, customers are still flocking to them. “We're seeing huge demand from customers." Diana says.

Intel E6850 for $99 +Shipping

**Update**
The page has been pulled so
the deal is now dead!

Dell Home right now has the 3.0ghz Intel E6850 for $99 plus shipping after $120 instant savings. This is a hot deal on a great cpu! Price is supposedly good until 5/15/2008

  • Speed: 3.0GHz
  • FSB: 1333MHz
  • Cache: 4M shared L2 Cache
  • Socket LGA 775
  • 65W Dual-Core Processor
  • 65 nm

Intel E6850 Reviews:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Microsoft Will Sell $25 Windows XP To Subnotebook Makers

IDG News Service reports Microsoft is launching a program to promote the use of its Windows OS in ultra low-cost PCs, one effect of which will be to limit the hardware capabilities of this type of device.

Microsoft plans to sell a somewhat crippled version of XP to the makers of low-cost PCs like the Eee PC and XO laptop for only $25. The major catch the PC vendors that make ULPCs must limit screen sizes to 10.2 inches and hard drives to 80G bytes, and they cannot offer touch-screen PCs…the systems can have no more than 1G byte of RAM and a single-core processor running at no more than 1GHz.

Besides limits on the screens and hard drives, to be eligible, the systems can have no more than 1G byte of RAM and a single-core processor running at no more than 1GHz. The program makes an allowance for some chips, including Via Technologies' C7-M processors, which run between 1.0GHz and 1.6GHz, and Intel's upcoming Atom N270.


The program is outlined in confidential documents that Microsoft sent to PC makers last month, and which were obtained by IDG News Service.

Microsoft has said it plans to stop selling new Windows XP licenses after June 30, but it has made exceptions, including for the use of XP Home in ULPCs.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Mozilla Shipped Xorer Worm With Firefox Vietnamese Language Add-On

Mozilla Corp. warned users on Wednesday about a worm that slipped into Firefox's Vietnamese language add-on and went undetected for months.

The malware-infected file has since been pulled from Mozilla's servers however according to Window Snyder, Mozilla's chief security executive, the download count for the add-on since last November has been 16,667.

The Vietnamese language pack for Firefox 2 contains inserted code to load remote content. This code is the result of a virus infection, but does not contain the virus itself. This usually results in the user seeing unwanted ads, but may be used for more malicious actions.


"The Vietnamese language pack for Firefox 2 contains inserted code to load remote content," said Snyder. She confirmed the information in a post to the company's blog on Wednesday. "Everyone who downloaded the most recent Vietnamese language pack since Feb. 18, 2008, got an infected copy."

According to messages posted on Bugzilla a computer used by Jasper Thai, the author of the Vietnamese add-on, had been infected earlier with the Xorer worm. When Thai created the add-on, Xorer hitched a ride by installing itself in the extension's code.

Xorer can spread via removable media -- including floppy disks -- and network shares, several security vendors said in their online malware databases. "Its effects can range from simply annoying to destructive," noted the write-up by Panda Security. Snyder said that infected users were being shown unwanted ads when they surfed with Firefox.

Although Mozilla scans Firefox add-ons, including language packs, for malicious code before making them available for download, its antivirus scanner missed Xorer because it had not added a signature for the malware until mid-April. Thai had wrapped up the Vietnamese pack nearly two months earlier, on Feb. 18.

Snyder has said that Mozilla would boost the number of times it scanned files for malware. "We are also adding after-the-fact scans of everything to address this sort of case in the future," she said.

TorrentSpy Lawyer Says "We Won't Pay $111 Million Court Order"

Just a day after a U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ordered TorrentSpy to pay $111 million, one of the largest fines in copyright history, Ira Rothken the lawyer for the torrent-tracking search engine said the $111 million judgment won't get paid.

Nevis-based Valence Media, the owner of TorrentSpy, filed for bankruptcy protection in England last week "and has no appreciable assets," attorney Ira Rothken said. "This was a Hollywood publicity stunt."

TorrentSpy and the Motion Picture Association of America have been in an ongoing legal battle since last year when the MPAA sued the search engine in Los Angeles federal court. The suit accused the site of facilitating copyright infringement of Hollywood movies. The MPAA won a default judgment last year after TorrentSpy refused to turn over internal documents, and on Wednesday a federal judge levied the $111 million penalty and ordered the site never to return online.

"It certainly is not a lesson for other search engines to look at what the rules are as they relate to dot-torrent files," Rothken said. "There was no analysis of the copyright."

Elizabeth Kaltman, an MPAA spokeswoman, said "We will pursue enforcement of the judgment."

The legality of torrent-tracking services has never been litigated on the merits in the United States, said Charles Baker, a Houston IP lawyer who defended Grokster and is Limewire's attorney in a case accusing the peer-to-peer software maker of facilitating copyright infringement.

The MPAA, he said, wants "other torrent owners and operators to look at the $111 million figure and say, 'I'm getting out of the business.'"

The TorrentSpy case, Baker said, "is another example of the studios eating these guys to death. They haven't tried the merits of the case."

While the MPAA may be claiming victory it isn't the clear cut win they'd really like to see. Since the case was a default judgment it doesn't set much precedence for future cases. Had the case actually been heard and an actual ruling been made then they'd have further grounds for more cases.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Is Free Starbucks Wi-Fi Coming To AT&T iPhones?

Earlier today the AT&T iPhone page noted that "Access to AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots" was included in all iPhone subscriber plans, with additional details that spelled out the extent of that access. "Unlimited Data (e-mail and Web), 200 SMS text messages and access to AT&T's more than 17,000 Wi-Fi hot spots, including Starbucks all for use in the U.S. *"Wi-Fi available at U.S. company operated Starbucks locations equipped with a hot spot."*





However by 5 p.m. EDT Thursday, all mention of Wi-Fi hotspot access had been removed from the page. When contacted by Computerworld.com an AT&T customer service representative was unable to explain the change.

Just last week iPhone users at MacRumors.com had discovered that they could access AT&T's wireless access points in Starbucks coffee shops and other locations, including some Barnes & Noble bookstores, by entering their iPhone telephone number.

Within 24 hours AT&T had turned off the free access and users reported that they were being asked to now enter a username and password where one previously wasn't needed. The closing down of the service could in part be due to some users using tools to fool the hotspot into thinking their laptop browser was still an iPhone. (more info)

Earlier today, AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel issued a blanket "no comment" when asked about the Wi-Fi information on his company's iPhone page.

Sun Launches Open Source Solaris

Sun and the OpenSolaris community are launching the first official release of Sun's open-source version of the Solaris operating system. Interested developers have had early preview versions to play with for some time, but the official release opens to door for corporate customers as well.

OpenSolaris is based on the Solaris kernel and uses many of its features like the Zettabyte File System (ZFS) and Dynamic Tracing (DTrace), which offers predictive self-healing capabilities. Initially, the OpenSolaris project will provide the core kernel, libraries and commands that are currently distributed with the Solaris OS. Over time, it is expected that additional parts of the Solaris OS will be made available through the project.

Download the latest version OpenSolaris 2008.05 in a single CD combined live/install image: a core operating system, kernel, system libraries, a desktop environment and a package management system.

The majority of OpenSolaris code is released under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL) Version 1.0.

Source based on existing open source projects will continue to be available under their current licenses. Some binary components are covered under the OpenSolaris Binary License and some are covered under other open source licenses. Specific download pages provide license information associated with the available component pieces.

For more information check out the OpenSolaris homepage

TorrentSpy Ordered To Pay $111 Million

U.S. District Judge Florence -Marie Cooper in Los Angeles, ruling in a case brought by the Motion Picture Association of America, said site operator Justin Bunnell and associates must pay the maximum $30,000 for "each of the 3,699 infringements shown."

From the Copyright Act:

"...the copyright owner may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000 as the court considers just."


The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) said the judgment sends a strong message to copyright violators. “This substantial money judgment sends a strong message about the illegality of these sites,” said Dan Glickman, Chairman and CEO of the MPAA. “The demise of TorrentSpy is a clear victory for the studios and demonstrates that such pirate sites will not be allowed to continue to operate without facing relentless litigation by copyright holders.”

The TorrentSpy site shut down in March, after it lost its case against the MPAA, saying the legal climate was too hostile to continue. TorrentSpy did not lose on the merits, but defaulted after it failed to produce internal records.

TorrentSpy's lawyers filed a document in court Monday saying Valence Media and its owners Justin Bunnell and Wes Park had sought bankruptcy protection in a United Kingdom court and requesting that the judgment be stayed.

No U.S. case has squarely addressed the legalities of BitTorrent tracking services, although this case and the case against Isohunt founder Gary Fung, which is nearing a resolution, will likely have strong impacts on future rulings.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Great PayPal Alternative, Revolution Money Exchange Reviewed

revolution money exchangeA few months ago we covered a story on the new online payment site Revolution Money Exchange (R.M.E.), that is trying to create competition for PayPal and Google Checkout. After three months of use I can say the site seems to be headed in the right direction. Not just with verifying users through their SSN (more on that later) but also with added security and lower fees.

The peer to peer money exchange site launched nearly four months ago. At the time, chairman Ted Leonsis said, "We want to become for social networks what PayPal is for eBay."

Revolution Money Exchange has been aggressively courting new members with a $25 sign-up bonus which was a great incentive for us to try them out.

Signing Up:

Obviously signing up is the first step in the process, as with any other site you begin with your first and last name and then create a username and password. At this time you must also create a security question, this is important as you will later need to use this question to be able to log into your account.



In the second step you simply input your address, this must be your home address. This information will be used in the verification process. In the third step you will need to enter your correct date of birth and SSN this too is part of the verification process. You will also need to create a unique PIN number, again this will be needed later in order to access your account for transferring funds.




Collect Your $25 Sign-up Bonus:
Update - they no longer offer the $25 sign-up bonus

As previously stated in order to promote Revolution Money Exchange and generate traffic they have been giving away a $25 free sign-up bonus. The $25 bonus will be credited as a pending transaction to your Money Exchange account within twenty-four hours of your account approval. To accept the $25 bonus and have it transferred into your Money Exchange account for immediate use, you must login into your account and accept the $25 bonus within 30 days from the date we notify you of the availability of this bonus at the e-mail address you provided during your account registration.


Once you login and accept the funds they are yours to do with as you wish. In my case I had my funds almost immediately. I attached my bank account, I use and recommend using a secondary account with limited funds for both R.M.E. and PayPal, and withdrew the funds the next day. As with PayPal it usually takes a couple days for the funds to be available from your bank.

Security:

First and foremost I have to say Revolution Money Exchange's security is far greater than anything PayPal or Google Checkout has. Unlike either of the two whereas you only use a login ID and password to gain full access to an account, Revolution Money Exchange requires users to input a security question at login and a specialized PIN number for transferring funds. This double blind type security makes it very difficult for any wrong doers to cheat you out of your money.

I will say I found it a little tedious to begin with as there are a few extra steps involved but when looking at it from a security stand point and thinking of the numbers of people that have been phished over the years I can see how it could be beneficial.

While a phisher might be able to get my login id and password they'd have to go the extra mile in order to actually get my security question and there is almost no way at all that they could get my pin number.

Verifying Users:

The one area people question me about the most is the need to add your SSN. I'll admit at first I was skeptical, that's why I did the leg work and checked the company out before I signed up. I'll be the first to admit the only reason I originally signed up was for the $25 bonus. But I wasn't going into it blindfolded, I've seen too many scams over the years for that. So I did the research, the information I found is covered in my original blog post. From all my ongoing research I have yet to find anything that points to any negative activity, fraud or scams. As best as I can tell everything is on the up and up.

Flip MinoWhen you sign up for your MoneyExchange account they create and account for you at First Bank & Trust in Brookings, SD (Member FDIC). They in turn ask for your Social Security Number, which is then used to confirm your identity against other information you provide. This helps keep identity thieves from using your personal information to open a MoneyExchange account in your name. It also makes it harder for potential scammers to open accounts!

I'm still on the fence about this aspect of R.M.E. While I can see its a good way to keep out scammers, faking SSNs is something that is a lot harder to do than just being verified at PayPal, I feel it makes more people less likely to sign-up, therefore making it a bit harder to find people that use the service. From my point of view this creates a big catch-22.

Fees:

Sending and receiving funds on Money Exchange is free (as it is on PayPal for funds between two PayPal members) as well as transferring money to your bank account. A transaction fee applies for check withdrawals, check stop payments, paper statements, ACH returns, and overdrafts. See Schedule of Fees and Accountholder Agreement for more information.


My Conclusion:

As I've said I've used Revolution Money Exchange for a few months now, all in all the only two issues I have are not actually with the company itself nor are they with the site. Both seem to live up to my expectations. Transactions are handled smoothly and efficiently and the site never seems to have any downtime.

The first issue I faced was with eBay. According to eBay's Accepted Payments Policy you technically can not use R.M.E. for transactions. There is some ongoing debate about this however I've been told that sources at eBay have said they will not back R.M.E. as a payment option. Now obviously if both the buyer and seller agree to use R.M.E. then there is little that can be done, however should disputes over none payment arise you might be in a little trouble.

Flip MinoThe second issue is actually the lack of people that take R.M.E. Now this might simply be a case of me not doing as much trading as I have in the past therefore not finding them to be as prevalent. It could also be that the people are unaware of R.M.E. or they could be turned off by the SSN issue. However this is something that given time should remedy itself.

The same goes with Revolution Money Exchange and retailers or e-tailers, I haven't seen many that actually accept them as a form of payment. Not yet anyways! The RevolutionCard was recently part of a Buy.com promotion (see link) however that's a different part of the company.

All in all I can say this, I've never once had an issue with pay-pal. I have heard tons of horror stories but never once has anything bad happen on my end. So that said why change to R.M.E? Well I'm not to happy with the fee structure at Pay-Pal. I'm also not happy that eBay force feeds me those fees. While I've only used R.M.E. for a few months, granted that's typically longer than most people that right reviews, I won't go so far as to say they are the perfect answer however it is nice to have an alternative

NVIDIA Launches Hybrid SLI Technology


PC users love the visual realism that high-performance graphics processors give their PCs, but would rather do without the noise and power consumption typical of modern entertainment and gaming PCs. Starting today, however, they can have the best of both worlds, thanks to the new NVIDIA® platforms based on the company’s Hybrid SLI® technology. These new platforms are the foundation for a new breed of PCs that deliver a richer visual experience while reducing energy consumption and costs, fan noise, and even heat. The new technology is available immediately with new NVIDIA nForce 780a SLI and GeForce 8 Series based motherboards.



Hybrid SLI Overview
View Video Clip



"Hybrid SLI will give consumers the extra GPU performance they need for the increasing numbers of visual PC applications such as today’s PC games," said Drew Henry, general manager of platform business at NVIDIA. "And it will give gamers and PC enthusiasts the quiet and power savings they demand. Hybrid SLI components could very well pay for themselves over the life of the PC."

The visual capabilities of typical PCs are driven by either integrated graphics on the motherboard or by higher performance, discrete graphics cards, like NVIDIA GeForce® GPUs. Unfortunately, the most common integrated graphics chips lack the performance and features needed by many popular modern 3D applications, games, and movies. Discrete graphics cards deliver a far superior visual experience, but consume more energy.

Hybrid SLI-enabled motherboards eliminate this problem by putting a GeForce GPU directly on the motherboard. This GeForce GPU has better DirectX compatibility and HD movie playback capability than the most common integrated graphics chips found in today’s PCs, but consumes less energy than a discrete graphics card. But that’s only the start.


HybridPower
Unleashing graphics performance when needed, and switches to low-power operation for everyday computing.
View Video Clip



Designed for PC enthusiasts and hard-core gamers, the HybridPower™ feature completely powers down the discrete graphics cards and switches graphics processing to the motherboard GPU in applications where major 3D horsepower is not required, such as e-mail and Web surfing. Users will appreciate the lower energy consumption, quieter PC operation, and less heat. When additional 3D horsepower is needed, it can be manually transitioned back to discrete graphics cards using HybridPower technology, which are then powered up and ready to rock the 3D world. Hybrid SLI technology can save hundreds of dollars in energy costs over the life of the PC for high-end, enthusiast-class PCs, and deliver additional graphics performance for more mainstream desktops via these two features.i

For mainstream users, a Hybrid SLI technology feature called GeForce Boost allows the user to add an additional graphics card for even more graphics horsepower. By combining the performance of the motherboard GPU and graphics card discrete GPUs, GeForce Boost increases overall graphics performance up to 50% for today’s visually intensive applications and home entertainment.

"NVIDIA continues to deliver outstanding innovation for AMD CPUs. We are especially excited that HybridPower, a feature of NVIDIA Hybrid SLI, will be introduced exclusively on AMD CPU-based platforms," said Leslie Sobon, director, product marketing, AMD. "The AMD Phenom™ X4 quad-core processors, together with this motherboard’s HybridPower features, deliver powerful performance and energy efficiency, an important combination for AMD."



GeForce Boost
Get an average of 55% more performance on Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare!
View Video Clip


The Hybrid SLI-enabled desktop PC motherboards are designed to create a balanced PC with GeForce GPUs and AMD Phenom processors. Eight models, including a newly available nForce 780a SLI motherboard, are available:

  • nForce 780a SLI, nForce 750a SLI, nForce 730a, and nForce 720a
  • GeForce 8300, GeForce 8200, and GeForce 8100

Currently available Hybrid SLI-enabled discrete graphics cards include:


Hybrid SLI-enabled PC motherboards for Intel processors and Hybrid SLI-enabled notebooks will be available in Q3 of 2008. For more information about NVIDIA Hybrid SLI technology please visit www.nvidia.com/Hybrid_SLI.

Santa Monica High School Team Wins National Science Bowl

The Associated Press reported yesterday that four California high school students from Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica, Calif. used a complex mathematical function called a Maclaurin series to come up with the correct answer — "two-thirds" — Monday to win the Energy Department's annual National Science Bowl.

The team beat 66 other schools and won a trip to the International Youth Science Forum in London this summer.

"We felt that if we were going to win it, it was going to be this year. Our team was just really solid," Dimitry Petrenko, 18, the team's earth sciences specialist, said after the win.

Petrenko and his teammates, Alexandre Boulgakov, 16, Marino Di Franco, 16, and Ian Fels Scheffler, 17, planned to celebrate by going out to dinner.

"Each of our guys really knows their stuff," said coach Ingo Gaida, a biology teacher at Santa Monica High School. "It's not like they're just studying for the competition; they just really love their subjects."

A team from Mira Loma High School of Sacramento, Calif., placed second, winning a trip to a nuclear science facility in France. Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology in Alexandria, Va., placed third and will get a trip to an accelerator facility in Virginia. Fairview High School of Boulder, Colo., came in fourth place.

More than 300 high school students on 67 teams participated in the competition. They represented 42 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The top 16 finishers each received $1,000 for their school science departments.

Grand Theft Auto IV Sales Top $500 Million

The Associated Press: Grand Theft Auto IV video game tops $500M in 1st-week sales

Video-game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. said Wednesday that sales of its popular and eagerly anticipated title "Grand Theft Auto IV" reached more than $500 million in its first week of availability.

The company said it has sold more than 6 million units globally since the game was released April 29.

The New York-based company said it sold 3.6 million units on its opening day alone, worth a retail value of $310 million worldwide.

"Grand Theft Auto IV" follows the criminal exploits of protagonist Niko Bellic, an immigrant-turned-gangster who travels from Eastern Europe to Liberty City, the game's fictional locale based on New York City. As Bellic, players can hijack cars, earn cash for criminal activities, shoot innocent bystanders and visit strip clubs.

Critics say the extreme violence in "Grand Theft Auto" video games could be harmful to children, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving has complained that the latest version includes the ability to drive while intoxicated.



Grand Theft Auto IVGrand Theft Auto IV $49.99 after Google Checkout


Grand Theft Auto IV: Special EditionGrand Theft Auto IV: Special Edition $79.99 after Google Checkout

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) Released to Web and Windows Update

After a few delays due to data corruption issues between XP SP3 and its retail point-of-sale software Windows finally released SP3 to the to Web and Windows Update. Microsoft has also resumed automatic distribution of Windows Vista, Service Pack 1 (SP1), which had been halted because of a similar problem.


Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) includes all previously released updates for the operating system. This update also includes a small number of new functionalities, which do not significantly change customers’ experience with the operating system. This white paper summarizes what is new in Windows XP SP3.

DOWNLOAD: Network Installation (316.4MB) | ISO CD Image File (545MB).

Microsoft still is not offering either service pack to Microsoft Dynamics RMS customers, having put in place a filter on Windows Update to prevent distribution to those customers. The company is still working on a fix it expects to have available later this month, it said.

Half Price Rock Band Songs

Source Major Neslon
MTV Games and Harmonix have teamed up with McDonald’s to drop the price on select Rock Band tracks in the United States and Canada. Each week until June 1st, you can grab two new tracks for 80 points each. To help you budget your time and money, here is the schedule of tracks:

5/6/08-5/12/08 :
Crushcrushcrush - Paramore
Rock 'n Roll Band - Boston

5/13/08-5/19/08 :
Shockwave - Black Tide
Sugar Magnolia - Grateful Dead

5/20/08-5/26/08:
We Care A Lot - Faith No More
All the Small Things - Blink 182

5/27/08-6/2/08:
Gimme Three Steps - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Dirty Little Secret - All-American Rejects

The lower price will start tomorrow at 0200 PT. But I wanted to give everyone a heads up as soon as I found out about this promotion.

Take-Two Sues Over Pulled GTA 4 Ads

Reuters reports that Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., the publisher of the controversial "Grand Theft Auto 4", has sued the Chicago Transit Authority in Manhattan federal court for violating its free speech and contractual rights, saying it pulled its posters within days of the ads first appearing on April 22.

Take Two accused the Chicago Transit Authority and its sales agent, Titan Outdoor LLC, of violating a $300,000 ad campaign agreement that included running "Grand Theft Auto 4" poster ads on the sides of buses and transit display spaces throughout the Chicago transit system scheduled for six weeks between April and June.

The suit seeks an order for the transit authority to run the ads as well as monetary damages of at least $300,000.

"Although we prefer to resolve these issues amicably," a Take-Two spokesperson said in a statement, "the CTA has refused to discuss with us its outrageous decision to pull advertising for the critically acclaimed game Grand Theft Auto IV while running ads for other forms of popular entertainment with similar content, including mature-themed TV shows and R-rated movies."

A CTA representative said at the time that the decision to pull the campaign was made not because of complaints over the GTA IV ads, but due to complaints over a series of ads that Take-Two ran in 2004 for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. However Reuters reports that the suit said ads were removed following a report by a Fox News affiliate that questioned why the ad was allowed to run after a wave of violent crimes in Chicago,.

Consumer Reports Says Apple Tops In Tech Support

According to recent findings by Consumer Reports Apple's technical support is much more likely to solve users' problems than rival computer makers' help desks.

In Consumer Reports’ annual reliability survey for the June 2008 issue 80 percent of the users that contacted Apple’s technical support reported that they had their computer problem solved. The industry average last year was 60 percent.

The survey, which polled subscribers on their experiences with technical support from September 2006 to January 2008, represented more than 10,000 desktop and laptop machines.
Apple led its rivals in both the laptop and desktop categories with reader scores of 83 and 81 percent. For laptop support, Lenovo finished second with a score of 66, followed by Dell (60), Toshiba (55), and Gateway (54); Sony (51) and HP (48) finished sixth and seventh, respectively. Lenovo finished second with a score of 66, followed by Dell (60), Toshiba (55), and Gateway (54); Sony (51) and HP (48) finished sixth and seventh, respectively.

For more on the survey check out these two great articles:

Dell Gives Inspiron Notebooks 45-nanometer Penryn CPUs

Dell will soon be fitting several of its Inspiron notebooks with Intel's new 45-nanometer Penryn processors.

Dell spokeswoman Anne Camden said that consumers will be able to order Penryn-based Inspiron 1420, 1525 and 1720 systems in the next few weeks. She also noted that Dell will be adding Penryn to its XPS M1330 and plans to offer Penryn processors to more XPS laptop models this spring.

"People want it because it's Intel's newest processor technology," Camden said. "The 45-nanometer technology delivers better performance, and it also brings in better battery performance."

[Source: Computerworld]

Monday, May 05, 2008

Yahoo Stock Prices Drop After Buyout Talks End

Yahoo Inc.'s stock took a beating Monday after Microsoft Corp. withdrew its $47.5 billion takeover bid, but the punishment wasn't as severe as many analysts anticipated because investors suspect the rivals eventually will renew their mating dance.

Although Microsoft has publicly indicated it will focus on measures besides buying Yahoo in its effort to make its Internet division profitable, several analysts predicted the software maker will revive its offer in the summer or fall if Yahoo can't snap out of a two-year funk that exposed it to an unwanted takeover in the first place.

"Should the frustration of (Yahoo) shareholders come to a boil, we believe (Microsoft) could re-enter the picture, essentially playing the role of the white knight," analyst David Hilal of Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. wrote in a Monday research note.

With similar opinions reverberating through the stock market, Yahoo shares shed $4.30, or 15 percent, to close Monday at $24.37. That wiped out nearly half the gain they made after Microsoft made its bid Jan. 31. The drop left the Sunnyvale-based company's market value about $12.5 billion below Microsoft's last offer.

Yahoo's stock price was $19.18 before Microsoft made its offer.

[Source:The Associated Press]

E3 May Be In Trouble As Major Publishers Drop Out

E3 Media and Business Summit (formerly known as Electronic Entertainment Expo) has fallen on hard times recently with many major game developers and publishers dropping out of attendance. The annual trade show for the computer and video games industry presented by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has seen attendance drop from approximately 60,000 to a mere 5,000.

Gamespot reported last week that Activision (and by proxy Vivendi) said it would not be attending this year's media event, and in fact would not be renewing its membership with the trade body at all.

Other companies have also announced that they will not be attending E3. These include online games maker NCSoft, Foundation 9 and Her Interactive. Initial reports stated that ID Software would skip the show, but the company has since confirmed their attendance.

GDDR Prices About tTo Rise

DigiTimes today reported that prices of DRAM parts may rise, citing sources at Taiwan IC distributors.

Some DRAM makers have started allotting more capacity for commodity DRAM, especially SO-DIMMs for notebooks, the sources said. Capacity for GDDR has started to strain amid the strategic capacity allocation, they noted. As DRAM makers are expected to reserve capacity priority for commodity DRAM for 1-2 quarters, a price revision for GDDR is thus likely, they said. The sources indicated that a price hike is likely to be seen from the second half of May, as some system makers are expected to completely digest their inventory by then.


The rising cost may effect the prices on the next-generations graphics cards coming from both Nvidia and ATI over the coming months.

Friday, May 02, 2008

5/2/08 This Weeks Top Stories

GTA IV Launched

GTA game smashes UK sales records - BBC.co.uk
Critically acclaimed video game Grand Theft Auto (GTA) IV is on course to beat the record for highest first week sales of any video game in the UK.

The title sold a record 609,000 copies on its first day of release, generating an estimated £24.4m ($48.5m).

The previous record holder was GTA: San Andreas, which sold 501,000 copies in 24 hours in October 2004.


Grand Theft Auto IV at Top of All Time High-Rating List - PC World

It doesn't matter whether you play it on the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360--Grand Theft Auto IV is scoring next-to-perfect review scores from dozens of media outlets.

The video games media gushed all over Rockstar's latest installment in the Grand Theft Auto series in the lead up to today's launch, with both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version securing near-perfect review scores from more than 20 different outlets (and counting).


MADD Outraged By GTAIV's Drunk Driving - Wired.com

MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) has petitioned the ESRB to reclassify Grand Theft Auto IV as an 'Adults Only' title in reaction to the game's inclusion of players driving while intoxicated.

Forums aflame over GTAIV freezing - GameSpot

PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 players alike reporting crash problems with Rockstar Games' latest; Sony reports an "extremely low volume" of complaints, promises it is working on a solution.


Take-Two suggests PS3 GTAIV fix - GameSpot

Publisher's tech support department unveils an elaborate 12-step program to address frequent freezing by deleting saves, disabling online and rumble support; 360 remedy still MIA.

Windows XP SP3 delayed Vista SP1 recalled

Windows XP SP3 still officially AWOL, but can be found on BitTorrent, Microsoft servers - ComputerWorld

On Tuesday, in a low-key announcement on a support newsgroup, Microsoft said it would delay the release of XP SP3 because of data corruption issues between the updated operating system and its retail point-of-sale software. The week before, when it had touted the service pack's completion -- in its nomenclature, SP3 had reached the "release to manufacturing," or RTM stage -- Microsoft had said it would offer the update via Windows Update on April 29

iTunes to Offer Movie

iTunes to Offer Movie Downloads Same Day as DVD Release Date - PC World

Apple announced it will now allow impatient movie buffs a chance to download new Hollywood releases the same day the movies becomes available on DVD. That cuts sometimes weeks of waiting for a movie title to be release first as DVDs and then eventually as a download at services such as iTunes and CinemaNow.

Apple has locked up deals with 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney, Lionsgate, Image Entertainment and First Look Studios to make iTunes DVD purchases available on the same day as the DVD release.



Blockbuster beware: iTunes Store gets same-day DVD releases - Arstechnica

In January, Apple flipped the switch on movie rentals for the iTunes Store to much fanfare. A lot of customers don't want to own movies, digital downloads are just plain convenient, and the move seemed to finally crack the major studio nut and catch their attention. Since the announcement, the iTunes Store has been slowly but steadily marching towards a respectable selection of films from all the major studios, as well as independents. Despite this new beat in Apple's step, a number of quirks in the iTunes Store's movie offering have annoyed customers. First and foremost was the release delay: films had a 30-day lead time on DVD before arriving in the iTunes Store, and the majority of new releases were only available for rent, not to purchase. Both of these problems have now been fixed

A Good Wine For The Linux Lovers

Last night I was searching for a decent bottle of wine to try out while watching Lost. I was at Winco so my choices where fairly limited, however I spotted a bottle that looked fairly interesting.

The bottle was a Little Penguin 2006 Merlot from South Eastern Australia. I had never heard of it, however being a linux fan the little penguin caught my attention. I'd have to say I was apprehensive about trying a wine simply because the label struck my eye. Trust me that usually makes for a big mistake. I can't tell you how many times I've made that one, but needless to say I've learned that lesson.



Well I figure what the heck, after all my choices where fairly limited at this point and if nothing else the bottle would make for good conversation with my linux loving friends.

I was pleasantly surprised, it ended up being a fairly decent wine. When I say fairly decent I mean for a sub $10 bottle of wine it was fairly good, I'd actually drink it again. I'm not a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination so I'd take my opinion lightly, just try it out yourself you might even be as surprised as I was.

If you want to check them out they've got a great website TheLittlePenguin.com

Thursday, May 01, 2008

AT&T Gives iPhone Users Free Wi-Fi

att logo
AT&T is reportedly offering free wireless access to iPhone owners at several thousands of its public hot spots, including those recently acquired at Starbucks.

Initially reported on MacRumors.com several Apple iPhone users responded with their experiences at Starbucks. According to the reports, iPhone owners are presented with a specially formatted page when they launch the Safari browser. The form asks them to enter their iPhone phone number. Once the number is verified, users can browse using the hot spot rather than the much slower EDGE-based data network that AT&T also operates.

Computerworld confirmed the free iPhone Wi-Fi at a Starbucks location in Eugene, Ore., this morning.

Details about the wireless access are sketchy as so far AT&T has refused to comment. It is unknown, for example, if Wi-Fi access is unlimited, or available at all the 71,000-some hot spots run by AT&T, which include those at bookseller Barnes & Noble and throughout the McDonald's fast food chain.

MADD Becomes Mothers Against 'Grand Theft Auto IV'

The Associated Press: MADD attacks 'Grand Theft Auto IV'

Mothers Against Drunk Driving wants a stricter rating on "Grand Theft Auto IV."

The organization is calling on the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, the independent organization that assigns video-game ratings, to reclassify "GTA IV" as an Adults Only game. The action-driving game, which includes the ability to drive while intoxicated, is currently rated Mature.

"Drunk driving is not a game, and it is not a joke," MADD said in a statement released Tuesday. "Drunk driving is a choice, a violent crime and it is also 100 percent preventable."

MADD is also calling on publisher Take-Two Interactive and developer Rockstar Games to consider stopping distribution of the game — which analysts expect to sell 9 million copies and make over $400 million at launch — "out of respect for the millions of victims/survivors of drunk driving."

In the critically acclaimed open-world game, players have the choice of patronizing a bar and then attempting to drive drunk. While virtually under the influence, the screen becomes blurred and the controls are more difficult to use. Players also have the option of hailing a taxi or walking. The intoxication effects wear off after a few minutes in the game.

"We have a great deal of respect for MADD's mission, but we believe the mature audience for 'Grand Theft Auto IV' is more than sophisticated enough to understand the game's content," Rockstar Games said in a statement to The Associated Press on Wednesday. "For the same reason that you can't judge an entire film or television program by a single scene, you can't judge 'Grand Theft Auto IV' by a small aspect of the game."

"GTA IV" follows the criminal exploits of protagonist Niko Bellic, an imigrant-turned-gangster who travels from Eastern Europe to Liberty City, the game's fictional locale based on New York City. As Bellic, players can hijack cars, earn cash for criminal activities, shoot innocent bystanders and visit strip clubs.

MADD declined to comment further about their statement.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

YouTube Hosts Playboy's 55th Anniversary Casting Call

Playboy is asking women interested in being the 55th Anniversary Playmate to submit video auditions through their Playboy Casting Channel on YouTube.

.


The Rules:
  1. All applicants must of course be 18 years of age or older

  2. Since YouTube doesn't allow nudity obviously no nude videos will be allowed — but two-piece swimsuits are encouraged, after all you need to show off the assets!

  3. Videos must be 2mins or less!

  4. You must give your first name and age at the start of the video

  5. Casting is open to US residents only


Models selected will receive round trip air fare to Hollywood were they will visit the Playboy mansion and participate in a private photo shoot for consideration as the 55th anniversary playmate.

For more info visit Playboy.com/pm55 or the Playboy Casting Channel

Closing The Book On Mahalo

Many of you might know of the on going struggles I've faced in trying to collect money that Mahalo owed me from my work with the company last Oct/Nov. These struggles eventually led to me having to file a small claims suite and take them to court. On April 7th we did just that.

On April 9th the judge decided that I had not provided enough evidence to prove my case, in effect deciding Mahalo did not have to pay me for more than two thirds of the work done during that time period. I guess we can chalk it up to my ignorance of the legal system, and just plain old stupidity on my behalf in thinking that when you work for a company and they use your work (an continue to do so) that you should be paid in full.

The judge did not bother to elaborate on what part of the issue wasn't proven, just that I did not "prove by a preponderance of the evidence" that they withheld earnings.

I guess I get to mark this down as a $2500+ learning experience.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

$199 Apple iPhone, Fact Or Fiction?

There have been many rumors floating around the rumor mill following the Fortune.com blog post "AT&T to cut the price of Apple’s new iPhone", but is there any truth behind them?

Several well known sites like Dailytech, TG Daily and MacWorld have jumped on the story and ran with it. However in my opinion a few things just didn't add up.

Fortune reports that AT&T is preparing to offer a $200 subsidy for customers who sign two-year contracts when buying the next-generation iPhone. It writes that since the new, presumably faster models will start at the same $399 base price as the current iPhones, that will drop the effective price to $199.

But wait a minute, what about people who buy in Apple stores? Its hard to imagine that Apple would want to sell iPhones for even a dime more in its stores than in another store. And we all know how Apple keeps exceedingly tight controls over its pricing. So Fortune is leading us to believe that AT&T is going to be undercutting Apple, a move I personally don't see happening.

This is an opinion shared by at least two other people. Saul Hansell over at the NY Times wrote today "The $199 iPhone? Something’s Missing from the Picture", and PC World's Editor in Chief Harry McCracken posted "The $199 iPhone: Cool! Possibly Imaginary!". Both share the same questions in regards to the Fortune blog post.

Rumors about the second generation 3G iPhone aren't new. Engadget recently reported that the new phone will have full GPS capabilities, a headphone jack that is no longer recessed, chrome volume buttons, and a shiny black rear housing all in a footprint slightly thicker than the existing iPhone.

The source of the Fortune blog posts is cited as confirming a few of these details. Stating the new iPhone will be 2.5 mm thinner than the 11.7 mm original and will also have a GPS chip for navigation and other location-based services.

As we all should know by now when it comes to Steve Jobs and the Apple crew rumors are just rumors and can be taken lightly until they actually make a release. So until the time comes that I show up at an AT&T store and see a $199 second gen iPhone I won't be getting my hopes up.

Wigix An Ebay Killer?



Wigix, the "Want it, got it Xchange" launches in public beta today with the intent to standardize online marketplace listings, and consequently make it easier for consumers to find the products they desire.

Wigix is not a new auction company, its modeled after a stock style price-matching system. Buyers and sellers list their desired prices for a particular item, and the system will notify people when they have matching orders there is no bidding involved.

Buying and Selling

The new SKU based selling system is setup with an auto-listing feature. The feature is similar to that found on eBay when selling books, movies or music. Sellers will no longer need to go through the task of describing items and posting pictures. Instead, they find the item in Wigix’s database, select it, and choose a price.

Similarly buyers need only find the item they’re looking for through a single search. Once they’re on the page for that item, they can see the last prices it sold at, how many buyers and sellers there are, descriptions, reviews and more. If they want to buy it, they put in a bid for a buy price; when a seller list and item thats meets the price, the transaction will be made.

Fees

The fee structure changes dramatically over eBay's system. Wigix charges no listing fee, and any transaction less than $25 is free. Wigix always charges the buyer $1.50, but the seller pays a variable amount: $1.50 for a sale between $25 and $100; $1.50 plus 2 percent of the amount above $100 for a sale between $100 and $1,000; and $21 plus 1 percent of the amount above $1,000 for a sale of more than $1,000.

For example, if somebody buys a digital camera for $200, Wigix charges the buyer $1.50 and the seller $3.50--$1.50 plus 2 percent of $100.

Make Money Without Selling

Wigix is also offering members several way to make money without selling items.

Category experts get paid 1% of the category's revenue (advertising and transaction fees) for checking listing and approving items.

Homesteading or category creation, allows user to add and expand the Wigix catalog of items. If you find something new that is not in the database you will earn 5% of that item's revenue (ad revenue and transaction fees)!

Golden Items, in an attempt at driving traffic to more areas of the site Wigix has secretly marked hundreds of items with a golden SKU. When you see the gold bar, click on it and your Wigix account will be credited $1!

Referrals, what site would be complete without a referral service? Wigix will give you up to 4% of any revenue (advertising and transaction fees) made by your referral's homestead items as well as a share from second and third tier referrals.

My thoughts

While looking over the site researching the post I saw it as an interesting idea. I did see a few areas I don't care for. For starters as a bargain hunter I'm not big on the "want it now" buying style. That cuts down the chance at getting any great deals. Which for me is one of the biggest draws to an auction site.

I also have a few concerns about listing items. I like to see pictures of actual items, not just a stock photo. The same goes for listings, I want an accurate description of the item I might be buying, not the generic one provided. You'll be forced to ask sellers to provide details and pictures, which would otherwise be provided in an eBay type environment.

But I'm willing to give it a chance. I'll try it out over the next week or two and see how I like it and post a review of my findings then.

For more on Wigix check out these great articles: